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Definitions of insanity
From the editor
Jeff Whitten may 2017.jpg
I suspect we’ve all heard that thing about the definition of insanity, i.e., “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
That runs counter, of course, to the old saw that “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” but it’s a good point.
If you decide you can fly from one side of your yard to the other simply by hopping off a picnic table while flapping your arms, and you fail to achieve liftoff no matter how hard you flap or how many times you hop off that table, chances are you’re nuts.
And yet. This idea that we can keep doing certain things and they’ll suddenly start working somehow persists. I think it’s why, at a time when we humans ought to be getting along with people we don’t like, we seem more fractious, bumptious and prone to use exclamation points than ever.
Naturally, some blame the current president and his tweetering for everything they don’t like. “Those chickens are mean!”
“It’s Trump’s fault! His tweets are lowering the tone of our democracy!”
Others blame the former president.
“Ugh! My ice cream tastes like warts!”
“It’s Obama’s fault! He gave ice-cream cows herpes! That’s why we have to dismantle the EPD and turn it over to BP!”
And, well, everybody blames the liberal media. Especially Fox and Friends.
“Liberal left media blames angry chickens on President Trump! Obama ordered EPA to put cow herpes in Americans’ ice cream! LOL!”’
Me, I blame lawyers and the entire state of Ohio for deciding to relocate into my checkout line at Kroger. But I also blame it on our apparent belief in our constitutional right to be right all the time, which we tend not to want to extend to those who don’t agree with us.
When’s the last time you got into a debate with someone over something to do with politics or money, which is basically the same thing, and one of you backed down and said — “hey, you’re right. I’m wrong.”
No, what really happens is, unless you’re married and arguing with your wife, and then you’re automatically wrong and might as well admit it, we all don’t go down without a fight. Instead, we go to the internet looking for facts and figures to back up our argument over whether liberals are worse than Nazis or Luke Bryan’s a worse country singer than, say, that guy who used to play Tattoo on “Fantasy Island.”
I suspect it’s not so much that we have to be right, but we sure as heck can’t be wrong, even if it’s a little thing. Because, after all, it’s wrong to be wrong.
True story. Somewhere around 1999 I was sitting in the Hinesville Police Department out of sight in a little cubbyhole they use to hide reporters in so we won’t lower the tone of the place when a woman came in to argue a speeding ticket. She said: “I know I was speeding, but so was everyone else and he singled me out to get the ticket. That’s not fair.”
Never mind the beauty of Sgt. Max McClendon’s response to that excuse once when he took me on a ride along and the subject came up: “When you go fishing, you don’t catch all the fish on one trip, do you?” No, the sheer weirdness of that woman’s claim that she was wrong but so was everyone else so she’s not wrong somehow sums up the world we live in.
Or maybe not. I never know. Even when I do know, I’m the last to find out.
But it has led me to wonder if we aren’t all halfway nuts anymore, and because we’re nuts, we have no idea that we’re nuts.
It’s a thought that’s been embraced by smarter minds than mine, including a retired sergeant major genius who told me he blamed our national psychosis on chemicals we ingest on a daily basis thanks to the food industrial complex (and never mind the toxins we breathe in or the chemicals that might come at us through rainwater and splashes in an ocean filled with more than just fish poop).
He said this after both of us had swallowed quite a few Miller Lites, so who knows whether I heard him right.
But back to insanity, and how you define it. Merriam-Websters online dictionary defines insanity as “a severely disordered state of mind usually occurring as a specific order.” It gives the legal definition as “unsoundness of mind or lack of the ability to understand that prevents one from having the mental capacity required by law to enter into a particular relationship, status, or transaction or that releases one from criminal or civil responsibility.” So perhaps, being insane is more than just a way to beat the rap. Maybe it’s our natural defense mechanism to a world that doesn’t make sense. And perhaps that’s why we all keep doing what we do, whatever it is. We’re nuts. We just don’t know it.

Whitten is managing editor of the Courier.

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